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IDA DOCUMENT D-1661
SIMNET: AN INSIDER'S PERSPECTIVE
L. Neale Cosby
Advanced Research Projects Agency
Approved for public release; distribution unlimited.
INSTITUTE FOR DEFENSE ANALYSES 1801 N. Beauregard Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22311-1772
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Figure 7. Trends in Land Warfare
Powell, who was then Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). The Vice Chairman, JCS and the Defense Director of Research and Engineering (DDR&E) recognized the joint warfare concept in 1992 when they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to pursue Advanced Distributed Simulation (ADS) to improve joint warfighting capabilities (Ref. 10).
B. CONVERGING TRENDS
Early on, Captain Thorpe recognized three dominant trends that could be merged to accomplish his goal of developing a networked combat training system:
1. The needs of the warrior
2. Advanced technology
3. Disciplined training requirements.
The Air Force's visionary warfighters were demanding a greater capacity to develop the skills that were essential for surviving and winning in combat. The first trend focused on the need for a capability to practice critical combat skills that could not be practiced in actual aircraft. SIMNET was designed to fill this training shortfall through in-flight trainingwithflightsimulators. Theanalysisoftherequiredlevelofproficiencyversusthe capability for training at all echelons showed the disparity of command at the unit level (see Figure 9).
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￼THE CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF WASHINGTON, DC 20318
11 November 1991 MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN
Joint Warfare is Team Warfare
When a team takes to the field, individual specialists come together to achieve a team win. All players try to do their very best because every other player, the team, and the home town are counting on them to win.
So it is when the Armed Forces of the United States go to war. We must win every time.
Every soldier must take the battlefield believing his or her unit is the best in the world.
Every pilot must take off believing there is no one better in the sky.
Every sailor standing watch must believe there is no better ship at sea.
Every Marine must hit the beach believing that there are no better infantrymen in the world.
But they all must also believe that they are part of a team, a joint team, that fights together to win.
This is our history, this is our tradition, this is our future.
COLIN L. POWELL Chairman
Joint Chiefs of Staff
Figure 8. General Powell's Thoughts About Joint Warfare
During the early stages of SIMNET's development, rapid advances in the com- puter, communication, and display technology fields were occurring. The second trend facilitated Thorpe's idea of networking large numbers of low-cost simulators together, thus making his goal technically possible and affordable. Dr. Craig Fields and Thorpe
Small Large Unit Team
Joint Task Forces
Decreasing Opportunity To Practice and Achieve Mastery
Increasing Risk of Attrition and Mission Failure Without Mastery
Increasing Skill Complexity Figure 9. Requirements vs. Capabilities
subscribed to Moore's Law2 (see Figure 10). This law states that semiconductor technol- ogy doubles in speed every 18 months. The same law of exponential increases also applies to communications transmissions capacity—bandwidth.
Fields often encouraged Thorpe to assume that all soldiers would have CRAY- capacity computers in their pockets and that they would have instant personal communications worldwide. The developer's challenge was then and is now to provide the most cost-effective system interface with the human being (Ref. 11).
A behavioral discipline that structured collective training skills from realistic, mea- surable training requirements supported the third trend. Before the 1970's, training analy- sis had been applied predominantly to individual tasks, duties, and jobs. However, in the late 1970's, the military Services agreed to apply the techniques of Instructional Systems Design (ISD) to their training management (Ref. 12). ISD techniques allowed commanders and training managers to focus task analysis on collective skill deficiencies that were caused by the inability to practice. ISD techniques also assisted system developers in designing
Moore's Law was postulated by Intel cofounder Gordon Moore in the early 1970's.
a 2,200 at
1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 Year
Figure 10. Moore's Law
the functional fidelity of the simulators to save resources by not producing superfluous knobs, dials, controls, and displays. This approach enabled the production of simulators that could be afforded in large numbers.
C. COURAGEOUS DECISIONS
Clearly, the SIMNET program benefited from plucky decisions by leaders with strategicvisions. However,onemayaskhowsuchahigh-riskprogramcouldsurvivein the hostile, ruthlessly competitive business environment of the 1980's. The short but straightforwardansweriscourage: courageousleaderswholistenedtotheirconsciences andmadecourageousdecisionsforfuturewarfighters. Thesevisionaryleadersunderstood the need for a better technology to enhance collective training, and they were confident that DARPAcoulddeliverthistechnology. Asfuturegenerationsofwarriorsreviewthefast-
paced history of SIMNET, they will surely realize that the leadership—at many key mile- stones during program development—could have taken the easy route and scuttled the entireprogram. Instead,theleadershippersevered,andtheirdecisionshaveleftalasting imprint.
￼Figure 11 reflects the long-range vision of the SIMNET decision-makers in what Dr. Elliott Jaques cites in his book, Executive Leadership, as the requisite time span for top-level leaders in managing third order categories of complexity (Ref. 13).
Figure 11. Leadership Time Span
In addition to General Gorman, Captain Thorpe was aided by the late retired Colonel Gary W. Bloedorn from 1982 to 1992. Bloedorn introduced Thorpe to the Army leadership that would eventually provide the bulk of the research funds. Bloedorn also introduced Thorpe to retired Lieutenant General Frederic J. Brown, who was then the Commander of Fort Knox. Brown became a driving force in the full development that assured SIMNET's acceptance in the Army. In January 1985, General Maxwell R. Thurman, Vice Chief of Staff, made the fateful decision to commit the Army to support the SIMNETprogram. Later,ChiefofStaffGeneralCarlE.Vuonoassuredwarfightersfuture prowess by continuing to make the tough decisions that were necessary for SIMNET's survival. Earlyon,ColonelBobReddyexecutedtheArmydecisionsinthePentagon,and todayhecontinuestoapplysimulationtechnologyinARPA. ColonelJamesShiflett,who replaced Thorpe at DARPA, completed the research program and transferred it to the Army.
Today, he is leveraging the Army research and development (R&D) investment with the procurement of the CATT system.
￼All of these resourceful, dedicated people were vital links in the chain of events that led to SIMNET's development. Unfortunately, however, while millions of men and women in the Services will enjoy the benefits of SIMNET's success, these sagacious leaders have never been given the proper credit for their courageous decisions.
￼IV. THE TECHNOLOGY
A. THE EVOLUTION OF A NAME
In 1978, Captain Thorpe used the term "tactics development network/center" to introduce the future technology. In 1983, the name SIMNET became an acronym for simulator networking. When DARPA transferred the program to the Army in 1990, the Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation Command (STRICOM) changed the name to Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS). The 1992 Defense Science Board (DSB) sympo- siumonSimulation,Readiness,andPrototypingcoinedthetermVirtualSimulation. Later, General Gorman framed the model of Live-Virtual-Constructive Simulation. ARPA's Colonel Robert Reddy fashioned the current moniker, STOW (Synthetic Theater of War). In commercial applications by the education and entertainment industry, names like Virtual Reality, Virtual Environment, 3-D graphics, realistic simulations, and so forth abound.
B. THE BASIC NETWORK ARCHITECTURE
Regardless of the name, this technology allows many different ways to develop newmilitaryorcivilianbusinessapproaches. Thecoresimulationtechnologyisalarge "synthetic environment" that can be entered in real time from stations worldwide. Figure12showsthebasicnetworkarchitecturefortheindividualsimulator. Thisarchitec- ture emphasizes the desire for flexibility in graphic systems, host computers, programming languages, and operating systems.
Networks allow widely dispersed participants to be brought together on a virtual piece of the Earth without anyone leaving home. Figure 13 is a useful depiction of the flexibility and speed in visiting any spot on the globe, including denied locations.
C. A THREAT TO THE ESTABLISHED INDUSTRY
Initially, the stand-alone simulator industry perceived SIMNET's technology as a threat. Inthespringof1986,whenthistechnologywasbeingexpandedfromnetworksof tank simulators to networks that included helicopter simulators, the DARPA program came
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